Dec 31 2012

Can Tho’s Cai Rang floating market

Published by at 5:41 am under Mekong Delta

Touring a floating market in the Mekong Delta is a box that many travellers to Saigon wish to check, and none are bigger, or more popular than the Can Tho’s Cai Rang Floating Market. Here’s what to expect on a basic tour of the market.

I guess they expect you to swim to the boat.

I guess you can swim to the boat.

The Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest wholesale floating market in the Mekong Delta, starts around 05:00 and runs until around midday, meaning that you’ll have to get an early start to the day if you want to visit. Most tour boats along the riverfront leave between 05:00 and 07:00, so if don’t make it to the water by then you’ll have a hard time finding a tour.

The boats have eyes!

The boats have eyes!

The market is about six kilometres from Can Tho, or about a 30-minute boat ride. While floating down the river, you will glimpse life along its shores. You’ll pass vibrantly painted boats anchored along the shore, merchant vessels carrying loads down the river and houses built on stilts over the water.

Full of knowledge.

Full of knowledge.

Once you finally reach the market, it’s an impressive site. A stretch of boats selling all variety of goods lines the river. Not really a place for souvenirs, people come here instead to buy large quantities of goods, mostly foodstuffs, and you will get an idea of what water commerce in the Delta looks like. Your guide on the boat will usually give you tidbits of information about Cai Rang as you weave through the hordes. You’ll learn that boats identify what they are selling by hanging a sample off the top of a long pole; if you want pineapple, simply scan the horizon for a hanging pineapple. You’ll also get the opportunity to interact with some of these floating merchants; most commonly this happens when a small boat selling drinks latches onto the tour boat’s side.

Crowded waters.

Crowded waters.

After the market you’ll be ferried off to your breakfast break at a local orchard. You’ll be led around a fairly large garden growing a big variety of local fruits, which you’ll get to sample after your walk. Once your breakfast of fruit is eaten, you’ll go back to the boat and it’s time to explore some of the Mekong’s canals. Your tour boat will slowly coast down a few of these quiet canals, choked on both sides by greenery. As the sun starts to heat things up, your tour will draw to a close, returning you to downtown Can Tho sometime around 14:00, making for around a seven-hour tour.

Almost too quiet.

Almost too quiet.

Since the market starts early in the morning, and because Can Tho is a healthy bus ride from Saigon — about four hours — you won’t have the option of seeing this floating market as a day tour from HCMC. Instead, you’ll have to spend the night in Can Tho. Several tour operations in Saigon will sell two-day, one-night tours starting somewhere around the 1,000,000 VND mark and up.

I’d recommend heading down to Can Tho on your own and booking things yourself, as you’ll be able to pick your bus, room and boat while saving some money. Certainly, any hotel in Can Tho will have tour options at its desk or, if you want to book a boat ride yourself, simply go to the Can Tho downtown waterfront on Hai Ba Trung and negotiate directly with one of the many boats you’ll find along the shore. Expect a tour booked this way to cost about 200,000 VND a person; just remember to get there early or the boats will leave without you.

Floating Market Boat Tours
Hai Ba Trung, Can Tho
T: (09) 3987 1001

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6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Can Tho’s Cai Rang floating market”

  1. rubin phamon 31 Dec 2012 at 4:21 pm

    can tho is one of the best location for cheap traveling in south east asia.
    it’s cheap, clean, safe, friendly people & best of all, plenty of sights to see.

  2. […] plan was to go to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh to visit the Cai Rang floating market bright and early the following morning. Can Tho is about 3hrs away from HCMC/Saigon and can be […]

  3. In Pictures: Cai Rang Floating Marketon 05 Dec 2013 at 7:52 am

    […] Cai Rang Floating Market from Travelfish. […]

  4. Sulyon 28 Dec 2013 at 4:58 am

    Very disappointed with the tour. The lady asked me more money to go through the canals. I shouldn’t have paid her the total amount 15$ without the canals although it was included. I think you can book a tour for about 10$. Mine lasted 4 hours.

  5. […] plan was to go to Can Tho from Ho Chi Minh to visit the Cai Rang floating market bright and early the following morning. Can Tho is about 3hrs away from HCMC/Saigon and can be […]

  6. Yvonneon 20 Feb 2014 at 4:39 am

    We did a private tour for two and really enjoyed it. The lady took us to the market, a rice noodle factory, and then through the little canals in the city. There were no other tourist boats during the last part of the tour, so I think she really went off the beaten track. At the end, she even gave us an intricately woven “bouquet”. We stayed at the Tay Ho Hotel, and it was only a one minute walk to the little boat. Great sights, although it was a little sad how people treat the river – way too much junk being thrown into it! For more pictures and details, you can check out my post on the tour:

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